HOMEfires - Vol. 2 No. 5, April 2000
Q: I have heard a great deal about the IDIS HOME data clean-up effort, why is this endeavor such a priority for HUD?
What is quality data and how can I assist HUD in its effort to improve the reliability of HOME program information in IDIS?
A: After an internal review of IDIS data revealed numerous redundant, missing and erroneous entries, the Office of Affordable Housing Programs launched a major initiative to improve the quality of HOME program data. HUD requires reliable IDIS information for many purposes, including reporting to Congress, monitoring financial information, tracking program performance, and identifying grantee and program needs. In essence, IDIS data drives the Department's programmatic decision-making process; decisions that directly affect each HOME PJ.
Initiated in July 1999, the IDIS HOME data clean-up effort has enlisted the assistance of Headquarters and Field Office staff, as well as each of the 542 HOME Participating Jurisdictions. Unfortunately, only 328 PJs have completed this vital clean-up effort as of April 21, 2000. HUD's Office of Affordable Housing Programs is still requesting the assistance of the remaining 214 PJs. The reliability of the HOME IDIS data hinges on these 214 PJs reviewing, updating, and correcting their HOME program information.
Ensuring data quality in IDIS, or in any data collection effort for that matter, is necessary for accurate analysis and evaluation. Just think of all the relatively mundane daily activities that rely on accurate data - zip codes, grocery store price scanners, email addresses, bank ATM pin numbers, and telephone numbers. If even one digit is entered incorrectly, your mail is sent to the wrong town, you are charged thirty cents more for a loaf of bread, your urgent email never reaches its intended recipient, you cannot access your bank account, and the telemarketer cannot reach you with that important credit card offer of 3.5% APR . (Oops make that 4.5% APR, the number was entered incorrectly.) You get the picture. Accurate data plays a major role in our daily living. IDIS is no different.
You can help the Office of Affordable Housing Programs ensure data quality in IDIS by carefully entering your HOME program information. Simple key stroke errors are one of the top causes of poor data quality in IDIS. A multifamily building that will house 10 families can easily become a 100 unit building with a quick and unknowing slip of the finger or sticky key pad. A little vigilance during data entry can save a great deal of time and effort at a later date.
Other common mistakes include duplicate HOME activities and incomplete completion path information. Currently, HOME units are erroneously high due to double counting -- a direct result of duplicate HOME activities being entered into the system. All duplicate HOME activities must be deleted. In the completion path, occupancy data are often obsolete. There are a significant number of HOME assisted rental units with occupancy information reported as "vacant." All occupancy information should be updated once a unit is leased. In addition, HUD has discovered more than 1,000 activities with completion information, yet no project funds have been drawn. PJs are entering completion information prior to project conclusion. Many of these projects are subsequently canceled, yet the inaccurate data remains. PJs should only enter completion path data once the activity is complete.
The above examples are just a few of the many data errors that can occur in IDIS. Other errors- such as IDIS' failure to accept decimal points in the completion path resulting in dollar figures one hundred times what they should be - are system-related flaws that HUD is currently addressing. These system improvements, in conjunction with careful data entry and review, can assist HUD and the Office of Affordable Housing Programs in making IDIS a reliable database for the HOME program.